Wind your way down Waterfall Alley, tackling rushing rapids on a whitewater rafting trip, learning about the natural history of the region, and topping it all off with a fine dining experience at Mt. Hood’s historic Timberline Lodge. There is no better way to see Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood than with an expert guide and a small group.
Truly one of the world’s mighty rivers, the Columbia is the largest in western North America. The New York Times describes the Columbia Gorge as being “like Europe, only better.” Hailed as one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders, the region’s fleece-capped mountain peaks, primeval forests, abundant wildflowers and waterfall-streaked highlands whisper of the Swiss Alps. Learn about the rich natural history of the region as we visit each of these diverse environments up close, including a whitewater rafting trip down a spectacular gorge. From Multnomah Falls to Hood River to Mount Hood, easy to reach trails abound, making this the ideal location for a hiking tour. On the weekends, the trails get busy with day-trippers from Portland, so we schedule this tour mid-week to avoid the busiest times.
Day 1: Multnomah Falls
Creeks and rivers rush forth from snow covered mountains and plummet down the towering cliffs of columnar basalt that form the walls of the Columbia River Gorge. If there’s one thing the Gorge is known for, it is spectacular waterfalls. After a short drive we start with a loop on the Oregon side of the river that takes in five named falls plus numerous other drops, concluding with the tallest – 620 foot Multnomah Falls – the most popular tourist destination in the state. Normally, you might spend half a day hiking to just one falls like any of these, so it almost feels like cheating – getting five falls for the price of one. But hey, who doesn’t love a bargain? In the afternoon we head to Hood River – world famous for its wind and water sports, and fueled by enough outdoor enthusiasm for Outside magazine to call it “One of America’s Best Towns.” Spend the night on the shores of the mighty Columbia River—with private beach access—at the Hood River Inn.
Multnomah Falls Loop: 7 miles, 1800 ft gain; options for more
Day 2: Rafting & Mt. Hood
White Salmon River. Historic Timberline Lodge. Dining Celebration.
Take a whitewater rafting trip (included in the trip fee – no experience necessary) down the glacier-fed White Salmon River. Running clear and cold, the river cuts through a narrow rocky gorge with 100-foot cliffs, emptying out into forested meadows. Have lunch along the river before we head back into Oregon, bound for the literal high point of the tour at Timberline Lodge—a National Historic Landmark perched upon the flanks of Mt Hood. Go for a walk through the mountain meadows and snowfields surrounding the lodge. Marvel at the sweeping views. Savor a celebratory dinner in the fabulous Cascade Dining Room and relax afterward in front of the legendary three-story fireplace!
Hamilton Mountain Loop: 7.5 miles, 2000 ft gain
Day 3: Mirror Lake
On our final day we explore the best early season Mt Hood National Forest has to offer. See how Mirror Lake earned its name, offering a perfect reflection of the mountain on a calm day. Continue above a glacial-cirque headwall through wildflower meadows to Tom Dick and Harry Mountain (yup, that’s the name). This rocky summit amidst the lush forests of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness offers the perfect perch from which to contemplate the icy volcanic towers of Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson, as well as a host of other peaks in the northern Oregon Cascades. On a clear day, more than 5 volcanoes are visible from here. We toast our journey and have a celebratory lunch before returning to Portland.
Mirror Lake, TD&H Mtn: 7 miles, 1600 ft gain